JNN 05 Feb 2017 Brussels : Four of the largest mosques in The Netherlands say they will shut their doors during major prayer meetings after six people were killed in attack on a Canadian mosque.
The decision came on Monday following an emergency council meeting of mosque leaders of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrech.
Several thousand people attend prayers at the four mosques daily. Said Bouharrou of the Dutch Moroccan Council of Mosques (RMMN) said it was disappointing that stringent safety measures had to be taken.
“A mosque is an open building that should be accessible at any time of day to all people looking for peace and calm. But we have to be alert against these terror attacks,” he said.
Six people died and eight others were injured late Sunday when gunmen opened fire at a Quebec City mosque in a shooting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a “terrorist attack.”
“Merciless acts such as in Quebec contribute to the growing global hatred of Muslims,” Bouharrou said.
The Netherlands is facing parliamentary elections in March with anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders leading in opinion polls.
Wilders said he would close all mosques and Islamic schools and ban the Qur’an if he becomes the country’s next prime minister.
Although no specific threats have been made against mosques in the Netherlands, Bouharrou said the RMMN was keeping a close eye on political developments, ahead of next month’s vote.
“There is considerable anxiety ahead of these elections. A politician like Mr. Wilders has had clear viewpoints (about Islam) over the last few years,” he said.
Wildres was found guilty of discrimination by a court in Netherlands in December. He was leading a group of people chanting against Moroccans at a campaign rally in 2014.
Based on figures published by the Dutch police, Islamophobic harassment has rose sharply in 2015. At least 446 incidents of violent or verbal attacks were recorded; this is while in 2014 only 142 similar incidents were accounted for.
Christian Radical Terrorist arrested
The 27-year-old suspect in a terrorist attack against Muslims at Quebec City during evening prayers was charged on Monday with six counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.
The massacre on Sunday evening, which Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau condemned as a “cowardly terrorist attack on Muslims”, left five others in critical condition.
A further 12 worshippers managed to escape the chaos with minor injuries.
Police initially arrested two men but later said just one, Alexandre Bissonnette, remained a suspect.
A second person held in connection with the shooting was later described as a witness. One man was arrested at the scene and a second man held after he called 911, police said, The Telegraph reported.
A handgun and at least two assault rifles were also recovered, according to Canadian media reports.
Bissonnette is a French-Canadian student, according to local news website TVA, which cited police sources. A Facebook page reportedly belonging to Bissonnette included “likes” for Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate.
The suspect has made a brief court appearance at which he did not enter a plea. He stared at his feet and fidgeted during the hearing as he appeared in a white prisoner jumpsuit. His next court date is February 21.
A Quebec police spokesman said the suspect’s motive was unclear and that there was “no indication” that anyone else was involved in the attack.
Canada is generally welcoming towards immigrants and refugees, but tensions have been simmering in Francophone Quebec over attitudes towards Islam.
Last year, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the mosque that was attacked on Sunday during Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Muslims do not eat pork.
In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of Quebec was smeared with what was believed to be pig’s blood.
In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after the infamous Paris terror attacks in November.